A MUSIC hall founder who has turned a former church into a packed out venue has been recognised in the New Year’s honours list.

Vincent Hayes, of Palace Gardens in Buckhurst Hill, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to British music hall.

He set up the Brick Lane Music Hall, which has been forced to move venues twice because of rising rents, 21 years ago in February and it is now established in a former chapel in Silvertown in London’s Docklands.

The 55-year-old said: “The MBE is an honour and quite unexpected, having been in show business all my life.

“I’ve always loved the art form and the elegance of it all. The theatre is fully booked most of the year and we put on shows people want to come and see.”

As well as staging classic music hall shows and pantomime, the theatre also runs an outreach programme, where actors go to schools and care homes, singing songs that older people remember.

Mr Hayes said: “I lost my mother, who had Alzheimers, and realised that people could still remember songs they knew when they were young, even if they couldn’t remember their own names.”

He said his wife Joanne, who does publicity for the theatre, and two daughters, one of which is an actor and the other studying at Forest School in Snaresbrook, were also pleased with the MBE.

Also recognised in the honours list is Theresa Drowley, of The Lindens, Loughton, who is principal of Redbridge College – named the most successful in London in May – who received an OBE.

And Reginald Bailey, chief executive of the Christian family support charity Mothers’ Union, who lives in Nazeing, near Waltham Abbey, was awarded a CBE.